ViVE 2022: Amazon Pharmacy teams up with Blue Plans in 5 states to roll out prescription discount savings card

MIAMI—Amazon Pharmacy is partnering with Blue Plans in five states and Prime Therapeutics to tackle the affordability of prescription medications.

The online retail giant's pharmacy arm is rolling out a prescription discount savings card that's available to some Blue Plans members.

Integrating this discount card pricing into the shopping experience lets eligible customers compare their co-pay or discount price upfront and then apply purchases for eligible medications to the out-of-pocket maximums and deductibles associated with their insurance plan, according to Nworah Ayogu, M.D., chief medical officer for Amazon Pharmacy.

It's part of Amazon's focus on building the "most customer-centric pharmacy," Ayogu said.

Amazon Pharmacy's MedsYourWay discount card, administered by InsideRx, is offered through Prime Therapeutics and its Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan clients.

Prescription discount cards or savings programs can be difficult for customers with insurance to find, and, as a result, they typically serve as an alternative to health insurance rather than a complementary option. This means money spent on medications may not count toward annual out-of-pocket costs or the deductible.

"We want to things to be affordable for patients but also simple. And, we really want to be complementary to the benefits they already have," Ayogu told Fierce Healthcare during an interview at the ViVE 2022 conference. "We want to enhance the entire system and raise the bar."

With MedsYourWay, Amazon Pharmacy makes it seamless for customers to use their discount card and get the most out of their benefits, he noted.

Eligible Blue Plan members who select Amazon as their pharmacy will enjoy a simplified sign-up experience, real-time plan-specific pricing on prescription medications, and 24/7 access to our pharmacists, according to the company. Amazon Pharmacy also offers free home delivery, and free two-day shipping for Amazon Prime members. 

Amazon Pharmacy aims to tackle the barriers that make it difficult for patients to get their medications and stay adherent, Ayogu said. The online pharmacy also is focused on improving price transparency.

"We'll continue to put out innovations to help drive down cost per patient because we know that cost is such a huge barrier," he said.

As many as one-third of prescriptions are never filled. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine estimates that a lack of drug adherence causes nearly 125,000 deaths and 10% of hospitalizations a year, while potentially costing the healthcare system as much as $289 billion annually. 

"Our efforts with Prime Therapeutics and the Blue Plans are just one more way we are working to help customers conveniently get the medications they need, when they need them, at a price they can afford, and take them as prescribed. We want to make it easy to stay healthy," he said.

Eligible plans now include Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, Florida Blue and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas.